HomedotMagisReflectionsHow to Recognize Jesus

How to Recognize Jesus

Nativity scene outdoorsHow to recognize Jesus:

Listen to whatever clues you’re given. For instance, angels told the shepherds to look in a certain town and a certain kind of place. They even mentioned swaddling clothes.

So . . . it helps to listen to what others have said about Jesus—from the accounts in the New Testament Gospels to the testimonies of people here and now who have encountered him. Word of mouth means something, and the sacred stories that have survived have important things to tell us.

Let go of preconceived notions. One reason some very important people did not recognize the Christ Child is that they weren’t expecting a child, and they certainly weren’t expecting a child from the working class. They were looking for someone already honored and influential.

So . . . assume that, even with the information you have about Jesus, there is SO much you do not know about him. Allow yourself to live with these gaps and questions.

Open your life to whatever path God shows you. Mary said yes to mystery, which must have been pretty frightening. Joseph didn’t know what the future held, except in broad terms. The shepherds, the wise men, and later, the disciples all opened their lives to new paths, relinquishing their own plans and trusting that God’s path would lead to abundance.

So . . . when you wake up in the morning, say yes to God and yes to the path. When you’re in the midst of a busy day, say yes. When you settle down for the night, say yes. Pray for that kind of faith and openness.

Vinita Hampton Wright
Vinita Hampton Wrighthttp://www.loyolapress.com/authors/vinita-hampton-wright
Vinita Hampton Wright edited books for 32 years, retiring in 2021. She has written various fiction and non-fiction books, including the novel Dwelling Places and spirituality books Days of Deepening Friendship, The Art of Spiritual Writing, Small Simple Ways: An Ignatian Daybook for Healthy Spiritual Living, and, most recently, Set the World on Fire: A 4-Week Personal Retreat with the Female Doctors of the Church. Vinita is a spiritual director and continues to facilitate retreats and write fiction and nonfiction. She lives with her husband, two dogs, and a cat in Springdale, Arkansas.


  1. Yes, it helps to listen to what others say about Jesus. BUT: Others can also say things about Jesus that are not true, to lead astray if possible even the elect. See Matthew 24:3-5. Thus the importance of discernment, as Pope Francis (and St. Ignatius) have reminded us.

    • I think the key word here is discernment, because yes, many Christians speak false words..but many more are by “word of mouth” sharing their authentic experiences of Jesus, which can be encouraging. We need wisdom and discernment when speaking and listening.


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